News Release or Story Pitch?

September 27, 2011

Briefly, news releases are tools PR pros use to entice someone into taking a larger interest in a story.

A conversation we often have with new or prospective public relations clients concerns the role of a news release. While PR consultants still rely on news releases to help achieve client communication goals, a release is one small piece of a public relations strategy.

Briefly, news releases are tools PR pros use to entice someone into taking a larger interest in a story. They are not designed to capture emotion or the “story behind the story.” A news release should put forth facts about an event in the manner preferred by news media. They should be kept to one page and be written in the style of an inverted pyramid (news writing standard), succinctly, factually and in AP Style. Stray from this format and your carefully crafted news release might go straight into the trash.

If your goal is to promote a new employee, an industry award or charitable donation, a news release sent to a media outlet might earn you a mention. If you need to post news on your website, a news release is an acceptable tool. But if you are looking to promote a larger story about your company, that’s where a PR pro earns her keep: with the story pitch. She puts the facts together in the manner that editors and producers like to receive them and becomes your passionate storyteller. The thoughtful strategy behind a story pitch is what usually earns feature articles or profiles.

If you think you might have a story that is appropriate for larger media coverage, ask yourself the following questions. If you can provide a persuasive argument as to why your news is compelling to a broad audience, your idea might be pitch-worthy.

  • Timeliness: Did the event happen recently?
  • Proximity: Did the event happen near the target media?
  • Impact: Who and how many does this affect?
  • Prominence: How important is this? Who’s involved?
  • Conflict: Is it controversial?
  • Novelty: Is it the first, only, newest, best, etc.?

If the answers to these questions lead you to think you have a compelling, newsworthy story, the next step is to reach out to a public relations pro to help develop and plan your strategy.




Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's CEO and lead marketing strategist.